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Matthew J. Edlund M.D.

To Mask or Not to Mask: Is That the Question?

Unmasking the psychology of masks.

WHO model of Coronavirus
Source: WHO

Masks are all the rage — literally. People get shot asking you to wear them. Some people smile and wave.

So what are the pros and cons of wearing pandemic masks? Here are a few of the innumerable reasons to wear and not to wear:


  • I might live longer.
  • The other guy might live longer.
  • Folks honk their horns at me. Usually, they don’t notice me at all.
  • People don’t comment on my two-tone hair.
  • East Asians wear them a lot and they die a lot less than we do.
  • It goes well with my last Botox.
  • The Surgeon General says I should.
  • They wear them in the West Wing of the White House (with exceptions).
  • People don’t hear me when I curse them out, especially those drivers who are trying to run me over.
  • Old guys don’t hit on me as much.
  • People think I’m conscientious — what do they know?
  • Waiters wear them and they look okay.
  • I no longer burn my lower nose at the beach.
  • Angela Merkel looks better in one; she doesn’t frown as much.
  • I feel better wearing one during anti-lockdown demonstrations.
  • Folks don’t notice I haven’t shaved for a week.
  • There are thousands of ways to wear them.
  • They’re great fashion statements.
  • They come in lots of colors.
  • I can make my own, and I haven’t crocheted in years.
  • My friends are wearing them on Facebook.
  • Instagram influencers like them.
  • People think they know my politics.
  • My ex-boyfriend (girlfriend) can’t recognize me.
  • People don’t notice my haircut makes me look like an extra from Lord of the Rings.
  • Big husky men come near me and they never do that at my age.
  • Hides bad dental work really well, especially English actors'.
  • People think I’m a bank robber.
  • People stare at me.


  • People stare at me.
  • People think I’m a bank robber.
  • Angry young people tell me they’re not going to wear those awful things because it impinges on their freedom, and I’m only wearing it because my son-in-law, the dentist, insists.
  • Now I know what my breath really smells like.
  • People think they know my politics; I don’t know my politics.
  • Folks with AR-15s get really close.
  • Folks without AR-15s stay really far away.
  • I sweat too much.
  • It keeps falling off my nose and then I touch my face and that can’t be good.
  • I can’t breathe. Then I cough more and get really bad looks.
  • It’s ruining my make-up.
  • I don’t like the colors, and why are they commercializing this, anyway?
  • I almost like the colors, but why are they politicizing this?
  • My glasses are so fogged up I can’t drive.
  • People think I’m from New York.
  • My ex-girlfriend (boyfriend) can’t recognize me.
  • I have to wash it all the time, and that wastes lots of energy.
  • Nobody asks for my phone number anymore.
  • My enemies are wearing them on Facebook.
  • No one can see my really great shade of lipstick.
  • Lipstick smears the insides and then I have to taste it all afternoon.
  • My boss likes me better without it.
  • I can’t find any, and they’re too expensive.
  • No one gets to see my killer smile, and I spent half my IRA on that.
  • I want to look like Zorro(a,) not a bank robber.

As the mask wars continue, feel free to write your own reasons pro and con. It’s time to unmask masking.


About the Author

Matthew Edlund, M.D., researches rest, sleep, performance, and public health. He is the author of Healthy Without Health Insurance and The Power of Rest.